Why And How Affiliate Marketing Works

Why And How Affiliate Marketing Works

The affiliate marketing business model is a great way to earn money. The way it works benefits everyone involved. In this post I am going to tell you what and how affiliate marketing works and the best way to get in to it.

The Affiliate Marketing Process

Affiliate marketing is the way that affiliates earn a commission for promoting other people’s products and services. I will illustrate the affiliate marketing process with an example.

1. Someone Has A Problem That Needs Solving

This problem could be anything from looking for a way to do something to needing advice about a purchasing decision. Therefore, they type in their problem in to a search engine for the best solution. An example of one of these searches could be “Panasonic Lumix FZ80 review”.

2. Your Website Has The Answer

You have a website that specialises in providing information on digital cameras, and you have written a review about the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. Because your review shows relevant information to the person’s search, it will rank highly in their Google search. This makes it more likely that the person will click on your content to read it.

3. That Person Likes What They See

In your review of the camera, you go in to all the details on its pros and cons and describe who this camera is suited to. The information you give ticks all the boxes for your website visitor and they decide that they want to buy the camera.

4. You Earn Money From The Sale

You have joined the Amazon Associates affiliate program. This allows you to add a unique link for the camera to your review that tracks clicks and sales.

Every time somebody buys an item through an affiliate link, you  earn a percentage of the sales price.

Who Does Affiliate Marketing Benefit?

The main reason affiliate marketing is such a great business model, is that it benefits everyone involved.

The Customer

The customer gets reliable information regarding the problem they are trying to solve. This is because all the people cresting content about the topic are competing with each other. Search engine algorithms determine the most relevant content to their search and puts it at the top of the results. 

The Publisher

The publisher is the person creating the content. They get paid for putting in the effort of being informative and relevant to the topic. By choosing popular topics to write about, they can make sales 24/7. This makes affiliate marketing very lucrative if they choose a good niche to work in.

The Seller

The seller gets targeted marketing done for them. Rather than a scattergun approach of placing adverts, they will have a whole host of people promoting their products. The big advantage of this, is that they are only paying out when a sale is made. 

The Steps For Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business

Step 1 - Choose Your Affiliate Marketing Niche

The first thing you need to do, is to choose your affiliate marketing niche. 

A niche is a group of people with a similar interest.

If you don’t do your homework with this, you could choose a niche that will cause your business to never work. This is because may choose a niche with a huge amount of competition, reducing your ability to get to the top of Google searches. Also your niche may not have a big enough following to make money from.

Therefore not all niches are equal in terms of their popularity and earning potential. My post on how to find an affiliate marketing niche goes in to all the details, but in summary, your niche should have the following characteristics:

  • Focussed on a narrow, but loyal audience 
  • Appealing to your audience
  • Relevant and not go out of fashion 
  • Something you are passionate about, or at least have an interest in
  • Have a large enough following

Step 2 - Choose Your Domain Name

An important part of any online business is choosing a good domain name. You may already have a few ideas, but before you go on to the next step, you should make sure your domain name is as good as it can be. My guide on how to choose a domain name will tell you more, but in short domain names should:

  • Match your brand
  • Capture the attention of your audience
  • Be a .com
  • Short
  • Easy to type
  • Not contain numbers
  • Not contain characters such as hyphens
  • Be easy to say
  • Not limit your business for the you want to expand  in the future 

Step 3 - Build Your Website

Building a website, it isn’t actually that difficult. You don’t have to do it the old fashioned and difficult way by learning how to cod your website from scratch. The popular way affiliate marketers build websites is with WordPress. WordPress is designed for people don’t know how to write code, to easily build and manage their website. It is really easy to use, and its plugins allow to you easily add functions and features. Here are the steps open what you need to do to build a WordPress website:

  1. Choose a website host and choose a domain name – It is common for people to choose the cheapest host they can find. This is not always recommended, as they are usually slow and unreliable. A good option is Blue Host, as it is inexpensive and reliable.
  2. Set up your blog – If you sign up to Blue Host, you can easily install WordPress with one click. If you choose another host, they should have something similar. If not, the chances are they are a poor website host.
  3. Choose a great theme  – WordPress themes gives your website its design. There are thousands to choose from and many of them are very customisable. When choosing a theme, you should do a bit of research in to it. It is really important to make sure that it is responsive. A responsive theme is one  that fast loading and works well with mobile devices. Also look at the amount of downloads and the star ratings of the theme that you like the look of.
  4. Choose plugins – As I said before, plugins give your blog certain features and functions. Plugins give you the ability to speed up your website, add tables, buttons, video, add eCommerce functions, block spam add security and much more. Many plugins are free, but some have “pro” versions that unlock extra features for a small payment.

Step 4 - Build A List Of Quality Content To Create

To make sure your content is found by your intended audience, you need to make sure it is relevant to what they are searching for. Therefore, you need to do keyword research.

This may not sound that interesting, but it actually isn’t that bad. Also, it doesn’t take too long to do. Proper keyword research lets you  know what people are searching for online within your niche.

Each keyword in your list will form the basis for your reviews and buyer’s guides etc. But you will know that they are quality keywords that people are looking for and don’t have too much competition. My guide on finding the best keywords for search engines, tells you all the techniques you need, but keyword research is the essence of ensuring that your website is filled with content people want to see.

Step 5 - Create Great Content

Once you have a list of quality keywords, it is time to start writing your content. Your content needs to do two things:

  • Rank highly in people’s searches in search engines
  • Appeal to and engage with your audience

To make sure your content ranks highly, you need to learn some good search engine optimisation techniques. These techniques are not to complicated and are easy to learn, you just have to remember to use them. Search engines look for the most relevant content according to their user’s searches. SEO friendly content will help you put your content in front of  your intended audience. In my guide on how to get to the top of Google, I go through loads things that Google looks for to determine where content ranks.

What You Need To Know Before You Start

It Takes Time To Make Money

There are a lot of gurus on the internet that tell you affiliate marketing makes you money quickly. Don’t pay attention to these guys, as this is false information. In reality, it takes months to make a penny, and up to two years before it starts to make any significant income.

There are a few reasons why it is a slow burner:

  • The learning curve – It takes time learn all the techniques
  • Mistakes – You will make mistakes along the way and there will be some that you won’t find for months. However, this is part of the learning curve and a s long as you don’t repeat the mistakes you are making progress
  • Creating content – To create quality content it takes time. With practice, you will get better and more efficient at creating content
  • Google algorithms – When a new website is launched Google puts it in what is called the “sandbox”. The sandbox makes it difficult for a website’s content to rank until it has proven itself. It takes about four months of creating consistent and quality content before a website graduates out of the sandbox. Once this happens, you can get content ranked at the top of people’s searches within an hour.

You Need To Be Consistent

Search engines and your audience like to see a website that is alive and well. You demonstrate this by creating content consistently. If you can create content every day and publish it, you stand a much better chance of getting good rankings.

You Need To Get Educated

Educating yourself about affiliate marketing will reduce the amount of time it takes to make a success of it. You will know all the necessary steps to take and the amount of mistakes you make will be reduced. I recommend getting some training from day one and continue to learn while you develop your website.

There are a few ways you can learn the best practices of affiliate marketing, keep reading to find out what they are.


For more information, check out these 7 affiliate marketing secrets you need to know for success 

Advantages Of Affiliate Marketing

If you can cope with the stuff I have mentioned above, you will be able to enjoy the amazing benefits of affiliate marketing.

What Is Affiliate Marketing And How To Start - Benefits of affiliate marketing


The flexibility is the main reason I started my affiliate marketing business. This is because I want to be able enjoy my life when I want to. As long as I get through my weekly tasks, I can work when I want to. This is a huge bonus over working for somebody else on their time.

In addition to being able to work at any time, I can work anywhere. I don’t have any plans to move from my home in the French Alps, but if I had to, my business would carry on uninterrupted. 

Great Earning Potential

There is huge earning potential with affiliate marketing. This all depends on the niche you choose and how hard you work. But if you were to promote a product that earned you $30 per sale, you could do very well for yourself. Check out the infographic below to see what I mean.

How does affiliate marketing work? - earning potential infographic

Passive Income

All the content you create is sitting on the internet 24/7. If you create your content properly, you can earn money at anytime. This is because you have a world wide audience that has the ability to buy stuff from different time zones. Also, once you have crated the content, it has the possibility to earn you money for months or even years to come.

Low Start Up Costs

One of the biggest reasons online businesses such as affiliate marketing are popular, is their low start up costs. 

As long as you have a computer connected to the internet and can afford a hosted website, you are good to go. Traditional businesses have a lot of overhead costs to cover before you make any kind of profit. 

Where To Learn About Affiliate Marketing

I mentioned earlier how important it is to get educated to make your affiliate marketing business a success. There are a few different ways to learn about affiliate marketing and which one you choose is down to you.

Research Everything Yourself

You can learn a lot from scouring the internet for information on affiliate marketing. The good thing about doing this, is that you can get lots of  different perspectives on how to do things. However, there is a lot of conflicting information that can be confusing  when you are trying to decide the best action to take. Also, it can be easy to miss important steps in the process of making your website the best it can be.


The internet is full of gurus that say that they have the secret to overnight success with affiliate marketing. From my own experience, I can tell you that overnight success with affiliate marketing is not possible. Therefore, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You will find affiliate marketing experts selling courses or eBooks about their methods for starting an affiliate marketing business. I am not saying that all of these guys are fake or scammers, but you would be wise to do your research before handing over any money.

Check out my guide on how to avoid “gurus”


Wealthy Affiliate

After a lot of research I came across a lot of trying providers that I didn’t trust. I almost gave up with affiliate marketing because of this, but I found a training provider that appealed to me.

Wealthy Affiliate is my recommended way of learning about affiliate marketing. The thing that first attracted me to Wealthy Affiliate, was their non pushy approach. They don’t give you unrealistic expectations and tell you the truth about how to build a successful affiliate marketing business.

The next thing that attracted me to Wealthy Affiliate, was their Free Membership. This was because I was still trying to decide what online business I wanted to start. The Free Membership gave me hands on experience to see what starting and managing an affiliate marketing business was like, without handing any money over. All I needed was an email address.

Check out my rundown of the Wealthy Affiliate Free Membership

You can learn more in my warts n’ all review of Wealthy Affiliate. I go through the things I like and don’t like about the platform, while going in to detail about what it is. But in summary, Wealthy Affiliate offers a lot for the affiliate marketer.

Comprehensive Training

There are structures lessons that take you from knowing nothing about affiliate marketing all the way up to and beyond scaling your business to create a successful business. 

Each lesson has a number of tasks to complete before you move on to the next one. This ensures that you don’t miss out any critical steps. In addition to the structured courses, there is weekly live training. These give you a chance to receive up to date techniques to improve not just your website, but your business too.

Website Builder And Website Hosting

When you sign up to Wealthy Affiliate you get a website builder that gives you a website in less than a minute. You also get fast reliable hosting for your websites (the free membership gives you two free websites to play with. 

Technical Support

If you are concerned about technical issues that may occur with your website, there is no need to worry as a Wealthy Affiliate member. This is because the help centre provides an excellent service. There have been a few occasions when I have had problems with my websites and they have been resolved in a few minutes.

Wealthy Affiliate Community

The Wealthy Affiliate community is an excellent source of information. It is full of enthusiastic people with lots of experience that can help you. They can offer solutions to your problems and constructive feedback for your website.

Jaaxy Keyword Research Tool

Earlier I mentioned how important keyword research is for affiliate marketers. To do proper keyword research, you need the right tools. Jaaxy is one of the best keyword research tools around and is included in the Wealthy Affiliate membership.

All these things are essential to an affiliate marketing business and Wealthy Affiliate has them all in one place. This makes life much more convenient and makes Wealthy Affiliate a one stop shop for your affiliate marketing needs.

That Is Why And How Affiliate Marketing Works

What do you think? Are you going to start your own affiliate marketing business? If you have any questions or thoughts on this subject, please leave them in the comments section below.

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